A stupid comparison

So certain elements in the casino gaming universe have apparently reached a state of arousal over the concept that Pennsylvania is poised to surpass Atlantic City as the nation's second-largest gaming jurisdiction.

The 2011 numbers from the Keystone State's 10 casinos certainly indicate they are closing in on AyCee's second-place status (behind Las Vegas). Last year, gaming halls west of the Delaware River posted revenues of just a click over $3 billion, still behind the $3.3 billion posted in Atlantic City. But that represents an increase of 22 percent over 2010, while the oceanside gambling resort's 11 gambling dens lost almost 7 percent during the same time frame. 

Statistics don't lie--the way things are going in both places Pa.'s ascendance to the "place" position is pretty much just a matter of time (unless the soon-to-open Revel mega-resort changes Atlantic City's fortunes that dramatically--a long shot at best). But why on earth would anyone compare the two?

The idea that Pennsylvania is a single gambling entity is insane. Beyond the sizes of the two markets--Pennsylvania encompasses 46,000 square miles; Atlantic City, 12 square miles--the casinos in the western part of the state (e.g. Pittsburgh, Erie) have had little impact on Atlantic City because AyCee doesn't depend, to a significant degree, on their feeder markets (Western Pa., Ohio, West Virgina). The legitimate comparison is A.C. against the six casinos (Harrah's Chester, Parx, SugarHouse, Mohegen Sun, Mount Airy and Sands) in eastern Pennsylvania, which provide direct competition for, and which have severely crippled,  the Shore resort's gambling industry. 

Okay, technically Pennsy's 10 operations do comprise a single market, I guess, because they all operate under the same set of state-mandated rules and regs.

But to trumpet that it's the entire state that is kicking serious AyCee butt is simply ludicrous.

Continue Reading